The US is to end its support for offensive operations by its allies in Yemen, which has been devastated by a six-year war in which more than 110,000 people are believed to have died.
Millions of Yemenis are on the brink of starvation. The United Nations says Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with 80% of the population in need of aid or protection.
“The war in Yemen must end,” President Joe Biden said in his first major foreign policy speech, which marked a sharp break with the policies of former president Donald Trump.
Under Biden’s two predecessors, Trump and Obama, the US backed a coalition led by Saudi Arabia against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Fighting began in 2014 between a weak Yemeni government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels. It escalated a year later, when Saudi Arabia and eight other Arab states, backed by the US, the UK and France, began air strikes against the Houthis.
As a result of Thursday’s announcement, the US will stop supporting offensive operations, including the sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Biden administration had already put a temporary halt on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This marks a change from the Trump’s administration, which increased support for the Saudi-led coalition and called the Houthis a “terrorist organisation”.
Biden announced other changes to US foreign policy, such as a reversal of the decision to withdraw American troops from Germany, where they have been stationed since the end of World War II.
He also called on Myanmar’s military rulers to release civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and restore democracy.